Are you happy to be medically treated by a Machine?

The days when driverless cars and talking robots were just in comic books are long over. You may not even remember those days if you were born in the last decade! Technological developments are happening at rapid speeds and before you know it, you may find yourself speaking to machines when you require medical assistance.

Does that make you feel uncomfortable?

Well, firstly, I can confirm that the most stable career option at the moment is in technology and engineering. Being able to programme and understand computers is the new Medicine. That should be quite clear as you consider that nearly every other profession of work could theoretically be taken over by machinery. The key word is theoretical. What percentage of the world’s population really want teachers, doctors, receptionists and almost every other profession to be just machines?

Humans are naturally sociable creatures. They like to interact with other humans and loneliness reflects negatively on mental well being. We are also driven animals. We like to have goals, ambitions and busy to do lists. If you analyse people you’ll find that we’d much rather be busy at work than be sat at home with no purpose to our lives.

So, considering the nature of humans, an average person would typically prefer for personal shoppers and nurses to be real humans. They’d like to feel empathy and to be able to reciprocate kindness to fellow humans. Driven to achieve success, we’ll also always want to be doing something productive - and to find some sort of work. It is for these reasons that many people object to the developments of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is the development of computer systems to be able to perform asks which normally require human intelligence, such as speech recognition.

Nonetheless, the development of technology and artificial intelligence is unlikely to ever stop. Some recent developments have caught my eye so it is time to analyse and dissect what engineers are currently working on.

Whilst higher quality studies are needed, AI has been developed to be able to be just as good at diagnosing disease based on medical image as healthcare professionals. The research concluding this review was led by Professor Alastair Denniston from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

When the team assessed the diagnostic performance of AI, they looked for two outcomes. The first was of specificity. This refers to the accuracy of the diagnostic test. The second outcome was sensitivity which defines the likelihood of the tool attaining a positive result in people with the disease.

Well, if such AI ends up being rolled out into the mass market, what will be the purpose be of specialised doctors? You know the ones which have spent years training to be able to diagnose strange conditions and specialised tumours? It’s an interesting thought but also one which perhaps needs to be discarded.

Although there is apprehension as to how AI will change and shape the future world, it’s important to remember and learn from our history. There were similar concerns raised before the Industrial revolution. Turns out it’s probably one of the best things that could have happened to the world.

Other interesting advancements in digital healthcare have included technology which can modify DNA strands, smart inhalers and artificial organs to reduce the wait for an organ transplant from other people.

All in all, I’d say the most important thing right now is to keep an open mind. Keep an eye on the news, read it from time to time, and remember that the number of career choices is ultimately only going to increase as computing innovations continue to become wilder than they ever have been before.

One day your shopkeeper may very well be a computer so enjoy interacting with real humans while you can.

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